‘Westworld’ Season 2 Finale: The Uncanny Valley Beyond

‘Westworld’ Season 2 Finale: The Uncanny Valley Beyond

In typical “Westworld” fashion, plenty of characters die, but only humans like Elsie and Charlotte die in ways that seem permanent. For the hosts, there’s always the potential for rebirth or transference or duplication, because they were designed to suffer the ravages of the guests and come back good as new the next day. And then there’s the host-human hybrid, teased out again in a Marvel-style, post-credits scene involving the Man in Black. In a clever callback to the season’s excellent fourth episode, which was structured around William’s interrogation of a failed android version of Jim Delos, we learn that the Man in Black is himself one of these experiments, and that his daughter has been playing the William to his Delos. The retroactive implications of this twist break the brain to consider, but it does give humankind a means to extend itself.

And so what of the park now? Wasn’t this a show about a recreational outlet for the rich and depraved? Surely the park will have some role to play in future seasons, and the company will have a voice in what happens. But the shift from a self-contained island to the mainland city recalls “King Kong,” and the new “Jurassic Park” film, “Fallen Kingdom,” follows an uncannily similar arc. What was once a controlled genetic experiment, ostensibly intended for immersive theme-park fun, has become a threat to the human race, which has now been infiltrated by creatures that can hasten its demise.

The main difference is that “Westworld” will think it over for a while.

Paranoid androids:

• Is Ashley Stubbs, a whipping post for most of the season, actually a robot? The Delos recovery team had consistently treated the head of security at Westworld like a glorified mall cop, but by allowing Dolores-as-Charlotte to leave the park, he seems knowingly to have extended the host uprising to the mainland. The line “I guess I just stick to the role Ford gave me” seems like a tip-off.

• The episodes opens with what we’ll later understand to be a flash-forward to Dolores in the mainland lab, having recreated Bernard from the control unit she smuggled out of the park. She has been making tiny, incremental adjustments, and she is on “Trial 11,927.” The way she describes the process (“You’re almost the man I remember, but there are flaws — a word, a gesture, a tiny fracture that grows into a chasm”) feels like a commentary on human nature and how we inevitably drift off course.

• Good to see the mechanical bulls get a stylish workout after being penned-up in the lab for so long. Maeve inciting a stampede is the type of coup de cinema that has been eluding the show all season.

• The Forge puts the visitor number at four million guests. Operating costs are astronomical to consider, but at $40,000 a day per guest, the math doesn’t seem that crazy for Delos.

• “I don’t want to play cowboys and indians,” Dolores says. “I want their world. The world they’ve denied us.” As Charlotte as Delores says later, “Be careful what you wish for.”

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